Today let’s celebrate that 100 years ago women gained the right to vote. The struggle for women’s suffrage was marked on the 6th February 1918 with a milestone victory. It wasn’t the end of women’s fight for political equality or its beginning, but it represented a landmark achieved by solidarity, persistence and the utter determination of amazing women to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude.
It was rooted in the revolutionary belief that women were not second class citizens, not inferior to men and should not be subordinate to men. Harriet Harman MP
The battle for political equality is not over, but over the last 100 years women have made huge strides forward. Today in the 21st Century the campaign for equality is fought on many fronts not just the right to vote or to take part in politics, to stand and be elected, to lead and shape our futures, but also the #metoo movement; the right to education for girls in Africa; the battle for equality in law for women in countries around the world; the fight to end slavery and sex trafficking.
That now in our country 208 Members of Parliament are women is a huge achievement, but it isn’t good enough. It isn’t even parity. We want gender parity. We want equality to mean equal in every sense of the word.
I remember being told by my grandmother that my great grandmother could only vote for half of her life and how she cherished the right she had won alongside all other women of her generation.
The battles we’ve won for maternity/paternity rights, rights in work and in pay, rights in law that protect women, but gaining the rights must be matched by seeing those rights exercised and applied. The battles won over the last 100 years have seen us make progress, but we must gather our strength to carry on the fight.
Politics can been seen through cynical eyes, jaded eyes, tired eyes that despair at the quality of politics or state of affairs – especially when their lives are made immeasurably harder by the decisions of those who never walk in their shoes. Issues that women face should help define our politics.
“You must make women count as much as men; you must have an equal standard of morals; and the only way to enforce that is through giving women political power so that you can get that equal moral standard registered in the laws of the country. It is the only way.” Emmeline Pankhurst
I want us to all pledge to get women to register to vote and to encourage our friends, colleagues, neighbours and our families to vote. Liberal democracy is under threat as never before in our world and we have to vote, to exercise the right so hard fought for. 100 years is one lifetime, it’s not that long ago, we should never forget the fight for equality is ongoing.
It is important that we come together and mark this day, but what we will say in the next 100 years when we mark this day. #useyourvote.